Restaurant review: Amici Ristorante befriends Cottonwood Heights
Cottonwood Heights • In Italian, the word "amici" means "friends." If you've had the chance to visit Amici Ristorante, you've probably been befriended by the staff, who do their best to make you feel right at home.
Amici's atmosphere is impressive when you consider that not too long ago the location was a gas station. With just 12 tables, it's a small and quaint family-owned operation, with an open kitchen that often requires turning away guests who arrive without reservations. An outdoor patio offers a few more seats throughout the summer, but a brisk takeout business is also thriving at this neighborhood eatery.
Appetizers at Amici offer some memorable favorites. Sicilian bruschetta ($6.95) delivered garlicky tomatoes, kalamata olives and mozzarella cheese on crunchy, toasted baguette rounds. The eggplant rolls ($8.95) offered up everything you might expect from eggplant parmesan and then a surprise of pancetta wrapped inside the lengthy strips of aubergine. Given its richness, this dish is the perfect size for sharing.
If you're looking for a gorgeously packaged taste of summer, Amici's caprese salad ($7.95) will become a standby order. A surprisingly flavorful and juicy tomato (considering it was early May) sliced into rounds but still left whole is interspersed with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, then sprinkled with lots of julienned basil and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a dash of black pepper.
An impressive-looking Caesar salad ($5.95), a mixed green salad ($4.95) and a spinach salad ($6.95) round out the choices for fresh greens.
Amici's entrÃ©e menu is divided into traditional Italian courses including pastas, pizzas and meat and fish options. One of my favorite pasta dishes was the vegetarian Mediterranean spaghetti ($10.95). Chunks of meaty eggplant and fleshy mushrooms mingle with tomato-sauced spaghetti before being finished with more ribbons of fresh basil.
The spaghetti carbonara ($10.95) offered slightly limp (rather than crispy) pancetta dotted throughout the creamy, eggy twirl of pasta.
If thin-crust Italian pizza is what you're craving, there are five choices at Amici, including the classic margherita ($8.95) and Diavola ($9.95) with pepperoni and red onions. The Romana pizza ($9.95) started with a crispy crust covered in tangy tomato sauce, ham, melted cheese and fresh basil.
For proteins, there are several preparations of salmon (rosemary or lemon, both $16.95) or steak ($17.95) and three chicken choices ($12.95). The lemon chicken ($12.95) was sautÃ©ed in white wine, leaving it juicy and tender, then topped with a creamy lemon sauce and capers, alongside a side salad of mixed greens with cucumbers and tomatoes that counterbalanced the acidity and fat of the sauce well.
A small selection of wines are available by the glass or bottle. The white wine selection is forgettable, with the reds faring significantly better four house reds are offered at only $5 a glass. With just a $10 corkage fee, you might prefer to bring your own instead. Beer is an odd selection of one Italian option ($5) and bad American lagers ($3.50). At Amici, it really is best to stick with wine or water.
To end your meal, try Italian dessert favorites like a light and fluffy tiramisu ($5.95), which was not overpowered by typical soggy, coffee-soaked ladyfingers, or a ricotta-stuffed Sicilian cannoli ($4.95), drizzled with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with powered sugar.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.theutahreview.com and can be found on Twitter @slclunches.
Food • HHhj
Mood • HH
Service • HH
Noise • b
Amici Ristorante is delighting diners in Cottonwood Heights with well-priced Italian favorites like bruschetta, caprese salad and thin-crust pizzas.
Location • 2578 E. Bengal Blvd., Cottonwood Heights; 801-944-6234
Hours • Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.â9:30 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $-$$
Liquor • Beer and wine
Corkage • $10
Reservations • Yes
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • All, but they prefer that you not pay with American Express.